Woof Woof Writing

animal-boxer-brown-2007 gratisography

There’s nothing quite like spending a whole day writing, only to discover that most of what you wrote sucks. What makes it worse is when you realise it’s your own damn fault!

A few days ago I treated my inner writer to a free day to chip away at a few writing projects. Specifically, I wanted to write some targeted articles for a magazine editor that I had been selling articles to. While the topics were familiar, the articles were to be of a different style – I wanted to give her something unique.

At the end of the day, my husband (a.k.a. chief editor) came home from work to find a small pile of papers to read. With eager anticipation, I waited for the thumbs up. What did I get? “It’s not your best work.” Translation: “It barks like a dog, Wendy!”. Who would have ever thought there was a downside to having an honest husband?

As I sat there looking at the pages woofing at me, I realised what I had done. It’s something I’ve done before. It’s something most writers have done before. It’s something most writers and I will continue to do. And if you are not a writer, then you may be inadvertently doing it in some aspect of your life.

The biggest problem with creative endeavours, and life in general, is EXPECTATIONS.

Yes, I sat there trying to create a piece of writing into a particular form (funny and 600 words), and with a particular outcome (loved by the editor and maybe my own column – yippee!). And while the form is something that comes naturally to me, I tried to force it. Every other time I’ve written a funny, 600-word piece, it has come out of me spontaneously.

Another writer I know is trying to write her next novel. She has great hopes for this novel – getting a publishing deal for starters. But she has put so much expectation on the outcome of the novel that she is frozen with anxiety, circling it without ever landing, writing bits that may fit in, but never actually sitting down with that first blank page and writing that first word.

That first word is always a declaration of trust. Trust that the novel will be what it will be and that in reality, it will be better if the writer does not try to make it something it is not.

close-up-cup-drink-1549704 rawpixel

Unfortunately, we tend to create these expectations in life too. We are taught that we should set goals, then work tirelessly towards them and that this is the only way we will succeed. But despite what every self-help guru tells you, this is not true.

When we do what we love, what comes naturally, and what inspires us, it comes easily and naturally. We cannot help but succeed.

When we try to be something we are not, or try to shape the outcomes of our endeavours and our lives, then things become difficult or do not turn out well.

Imagine your life is a river and you are travelling down it in a boat. You can choose to sit quietly, enjoying the scenery and surprises that appear around each corner, and hanging on with white knuckles through the rapids. Occasionally you might stop at the side of the river, pick some flowers and take a breather. Other times you might want to grab an oar and pick up speed.

The alternative is to paddle against the current, detour up tributaries, or worse still, find yourself paddling back upstream, trying to relive and rectify your past. In extreme cases, you might take your boat out of the river and drag it half a mile through dense bush to another river – a river that your boat is not designed to navigate.

I find it endlessly worrying that so many of us are living our lives contrary to our passions and talents.

I myself have spent decades fighting the urge to write and even now I still doubt my ability to do it well. It’s as if we are so terrified to do the things we dream of on the off chance that we might not be good at it. Because if we fail at our dreams then we will then have nothing – our precious dream is gone.

If we applied the same perseverance to our dreams and passions as we do to other things in life that are not so important, then we would succeed. If we could simply overcome our fear of failure, we could blossom and make our mark on the world in our own unique way.

How do we become fearless of failure? Not by eliminating fear, but by redefining failure. By simply releasing the expectations we have of how our dreams will turn out, then there is no way to fail. There are no criteria against which we can measure our relative success or failure. Consequently, whatever we do would be a success.

A writer could simply be a writer by writing. An artist could simply be an artist by picking up a brush. A cook could simply be a cook by poaching an egg. A lover could be a lover with just a smile.

The truth is that by living our dreams, there are endless possibilities beyond anything you could ever imagine in that scared little brain of yours. By letting the river take you on your destined path, you will soon start picking up speed.

So, what are you waiting for? Throw away the map, get in your boat, push off and hang on tight. I’ll meet you where the river meets the sea and you can tell me all the wonderful things that happened…

Twain - twenty yrs quote


If you enjoyed this post, then you will love my next book, Time Management for the Tired and Overwhelmed, which is due for release later this year. Please be sure to follow me on my blog, Twitter or Facebook  (@WendyMWriter) so that you can receive updates.


 

Photo Credits
Dog: Gratisography on Pexels
Typewriter: rawpixel.com on Pexels
River: Chinmay Singh on Pexels

 

 

22 thoughts on “Woof Woof Writing

  1. Nice post, I can completely relate. I spent 7 years writing my series in my little box, loved it all. This year it starts getting seen and now I know it all sucks. Oh well, the only way is up from here.

    Liked by 4 people

      • I wish. I’m working with an editor for the first time. I have to rewrite most of it. I broke every writing rule, plus some made especially for me! I have a redundant and useless POV that I write in too. I’m making progress that’s the important thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s awesome that you are persevering, getting help and making the effort to learn your craft. Writing is complex and hard. I think the fact that you have actually WRITTEN something is the first major step!! A good friend says: You can’t edit nothing. Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic! I can relate to this on so many levels. Sometimes I procrastinate because I’m afraid I won’t be able to find the perfect words to express exactly what it is I want to say/show/explain. I put so much pressure on myself that I’m too daunted by it all to begin. I used to be much worse, going months at a time without picking up my pen, but now I figure it’s better to “write crap and edit brilliantly”. Thanks for a great article x

    Liked by 5 people

    • I love that! I’m putting that on my wall. Write crap and edit brilliantly! 😁 That’s almost as good as: If you can blind them with brilliance, baffle them with bullsh*t 😀 Thanks for your comment Michelle xx

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  3. I love this!! I can truly relate to this as well… Sometimes we can be TOO goal oriented and push ourselves unreasonably by doing something that does not feel like it is truly our own (I know I’m certainly guilty of this). Your description of the river really reminded me about the positive psychology concept of ‘Flow’, of being ‘in the zone’, fully immersed and focused on what we are doing and even deriving some pleasure from it. As they would say in positive psychology: “Flow occurs when your skill level and the challenge at hand are equal”. I also like your idea of redefining failure as well as releasing expectations of how things will turn out. Thanks for the inspiring post! xx

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for your lovely comment 😆 I think sometimes we forget to trust in our intuition and feelings, and it makes our lives more difficult than it needs to be. I often wonder if this is why so many people are tired all the time. They are fighting against their life. 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think this may very well be the case… We try to control so much, which is unrealistic and can lead to burning out. I think in the western world we can also sometimes just be TOO goal oriented rather than in tune with the flow of life. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Amazing! I try write/teach these ideas, so that I can work them through in my own head, and subsequently learn them myself. I have suffered complete burnout, so your comment rings very true and has given me a deeper insight into this topic, and perhaps why it is important for me to embrace. Thankyou for helping me learn and change 😄 And for your lovely comments 😁

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  4. I really enjoy the way you write, Wendy! Your intelligence shines through your words. I did see the comment before mine talking about burnout and I know OH I know how true this is. It is so important to listen to our bodies and to FLOW with our creativity. When we force something it won’t be our best foot forward. Goals are important. Yes. But if we keep pushing without allowing ourselves proper down time and rest then we will be in big trouble. As I get “older” I can no longer push as I once did. So change is imminent. I look forward in reading your creative thoughts and in getting to know you. When we live according to our passions, yes even then, we must take care not to burn the candle at both ends. And then when we learn not only to live from our passions, in addition to Balance, our lives become Magical. Oh yea, this I know too. 💜💜💜

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your lovely comment 😀 I look forward to getting to know you too, as I enjoy your posts immensely. You’ve inspired me here, with the possibility of a magical live… 🌈

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  5. Wise words Wendy. I am certainly not in the same writing league as you, but, I think we all have expectations that everyone should like what we do. If that happens, we all bask in the glow of the moment, but we do not grow as much as when we fail. It is kind of how we treat our kids these days, giving trophies, ribbons and awards just for showing up. This sets up false expectations and can have disastrous results when they experience their first failure. We all need to know it is OK to fall short and that when this happens, we learn to stretch a bit more, so we can hit the mark. Have a great day. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read Booker Prize winning books and hated them! I read your posts and your passion and enjoyment comes through every time. Sometimes I believe that its not what we say or how we say it, but the emotion and love we put into it. Besides, if you enjoyed yourself, who cares if people don’t like it! They are the ones missing out on the wonderful things you have to share 💕Thanks for reading 💖

      Liked by 1 person

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